Washington has offered Russia assistance in eliminating a resurgence of the Daesh terror group in Syrian regime-controlled areas, US President Donald Trump’s special envoy for the Syrian conflict said Thursday, Anadolu Agency reports.
Ambassador James Jeffrey said the terror group has been emboldened in Badiyah Desert, mounting attacks and briefly holding territory as regime forces have been focused on northwest Syria’s Idlib province.
“One consequence of the focus on Idlib by what’s left of Assad’s inept army, is that few forces are left to deal with [Daesh] in the southwest in the Badiyah Desert,” Jeffrey said during a video conference hosted by the Atlantic Council think tank’s Turkey branch.
“We have seen [Daesh] gaining ground there, attacking even towns, and at least briefly holding territory. That has to stop. We’ve offered to cooperate with the Russians on this, but as long as the focus is on Idlib that is yet another consequence,” he added without elaborating on the details of the overture.
Jeffrey warned that while the regime’s offensive on Idlib has been stopped “for the moment,” the possibility that it could quickly resume “still remains a danger.”
“Idlib is the crucible of the entire conflict in Syria at this point,” he said. “This is the question before us: will the Syrian government continue this offensive, push for a military victory, or are we at a point that this cease-fire holds and we can move to a political settlement of the conflict?”
Idlib has long been under siege by Assad regime forces and its allies, and previous cease-fires for the region were plagued by violations.